NIH grant to fund Carilion research on brain injuries among the elderly

Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 8:07 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Millions of Americans are treated for head trauma every year, but currently there is no test that can rapidly diagnose mild brain injury.

Carilion Clinic has teamed up with the University of Pennsylvania and the Richmond startup BRAINBox Solutions to change that.

The partners will receive a $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a new way to diagnose brain injuries in the elderly.

Dr. Damon Kuehl is Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Carilion Clinic.

“Older individuals need their own diagnostic test, and most research to date has largely ignored this population,” Kuehl told WDBJ7 Thursday. “So this will be the first study and test developed of its kind in the world specifically for older individuals with head trauma.”

The grant will expand on research already underway.

Lee Perren was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury last September, after he was struck with a car in Blacksburg. He has participated in Dr. Kuehl’s research, with tests of his memory and balance, and samples of his blood.

“I wanted to be able to take my unfortunate incident and see if there’s a way I could use it to benefit someone else,” Perren said in an interview. “That definitely makes me feel better, and that makes the ordeal I went through have a little more meaning.”

The work the NIH grant will fund could have an important pay-off, in a relatively short period of time.

Dr. Kuehl said the goal is to have a diagnostic test for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within the next three years.

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